Ohio Turnpike moves into overdrive on improvements
The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission is building the largest construction project in its history, dating back to the years leading up to the turnpike’s 1955 completion.
The toll collection system or TCS modernization project, adopted by the turnpike commission in December 2017, has reached full swing as 2022 winds down, and it will continue next year.
More than 20 construction projects are required to build the infrastructure enabling the turnpike commission to modernize the TCS, which will create open road tolling lanes for E-ZPass customers to travel non-stop across the entire state at highway speeds.
The TCS modernization project includes a reduction in the number of toll plazas from 31 to 24. There will be four mainline toll plazas and 20 toll plaza interchanges on the Ohio Turnpike when the new TCS goes live in summer 2023, barring delays.
In addition to construction of the infrastructure, the project includes integration of hardware and software required for the TCS and transition to a new Customer Service Center in Berea.
Customers without an E-ZPass entering the Ohio Turnpike at any interchange between Toll Plaza 49 on the mainline in Swanton (Lucas County) and Toll Plaza 211 on the mainline in Newton Falls (Trumbull County) still will have the option to stop for tickets and pay with cash or credit card when they exit.
The newly constructed Toll Plaza 49, the first of four new or renovated mainline toll plazas necessary for open road E-ZPass tolling, was completed in late 2021, and now is being used to test components of the new system.
Construction of the new mainline Westgate Toll Plaza in Edon (Williams County) at milepost 4 is underway and will continue through the end of 2022.
The existing Eastgate Toll Plaza on the mainline at milepost 239 in New Springfield (Mahoning County) is scheduled to be renovated in 2023. Construction of the westbound lanes up to the toll plaza are underway and will continue until the end of 2022. The eastbound lanes were completed last year. Additional pavement work will be required at the toll plaza when it goes live in 2023.
Under the TCS modernization plan, the toll booth lanes at 20 toll plaza interchanges from exits 52 to 209 will be converted. The lane conversion project, which has begun, includes the installation of new electronic tolling equipment, the removal of all entrance gates, and the removal of gates from E-ZPass-only exit lanes.
Lane conversions and the removal of entry gates at toll plaza interchange 209 (Warren) is scheduled to begin in December 2022.
It is business-as-usual at toll plaza interchanges 215 (Lordstown-West), 216 (Lordstown-East), 218 (Niles-Youngstown), 232 (Youngstown) and 234 (Youngstown-Poland). Once the new TCS goes live, tolls no longer will be collected from customers exiting at these toll plaza interchanges. They will become nontolled interchanges.
Customers with E-ZPass will save time traveling through the toll plazas and pay lower toll rates — about 33 percent less on average — compared with motorists paying with cash or by credit card.
Other TCS projects along the Ohio Turnpike include installation of automatic traffic recorders, a camera system that can count and determine vehicles by class; and weigh-in motion systems, which involve pavement sensors to weigh trucks as they are driving at highway speeds and to detect and enforce overweight vehicles.
This year, additional roadway infrastructure projects across the entire 241-mile Ohio Turnpike include 28- lane miles of pavement replacement, 70 miles of pavement resurfacing and 11 bridges are being repaired, replaced or removed.
The new TCS system and the technology behind it are a big step forward in safety, efficiency and convenience for Ohio Turnpike customers to reach east and west destinations along the northern corridor of Ohio and beyond.
For more information on the Ohio Turnpike’s TCS modernization plan, visit www.ohio
Chris Matta, a native of Masury in Trumbull County, is chief engineer of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.